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There was something distinctly Premiership-esque about Red Devils 5 Blue Nuns 4. Whether it was people moaning about the price of entry/the programmes, playing well yet being ultimately outclassed or indeed playing in a ground that seemed to comply with the Taylor report I don’t know. But for a little while, things felt, well, familiar.

The game : we went 1-0 up thanks to the Pole. Though my notes say that SS did a lot of the work. Was fun listening to the PA announcer pronouncing Wojciechowski though. While we were looking pretty damn good in the early stages, I think we were all shocked when the ultra-impressive Kiwi doubled our lead in the 8th minute. And by the time that the third went in, on 23 minutes thanks to Matt Fowler heading, we had gone from being in shock to resorting to that fucking irritating “easy” chant complete with moronic hand clap*

* – I am led to believe that while the “easy” thing was started by Shirley “Big Daddy” Crabtree, it has been resurrected by professional Chelski “fan” Tim Lovejoy. No further comment necessary.

Deep down, we thought it couldn’t last. And it didn’t. In the space of what felt like a minute, they pulled back to 3-2, and leaving us glad it was HT.

Unfortunately, we had to come back out for the second half, and to the surprise of just about no-one, they equalised. Then they went ahead. Then they went 5-3 ahead. And suddenly, all the things I was going to write about (namely, how the Conf should give us an automatic bye into their division) were conveniently scribbled out.

Funny thing was, despite being 5-3 down, we didn’t really play that badly. Not too sure if that inspires confidence in me for next season or not. Anyway, we got a grandstand finish (ahem) when we got a free kick on the edge of the box, and Barry Moore struck sweetly (?) to make it 5-4. Who said PSFs were dull?

And while I say this practically every time we play a club higher than ourselves, playing at stadia like Broadfield or against clubs like Aldershot really does whet the appetite for Conference football. Right now, we feel like a 14 year old who can’t wait until he becomes 18. We will need to learn patience, but I think I’ve said this before : most of us have been supporters of AFCW/WFC since league days and it shows. While there isn’t a great appetite for Prem football, there is a subconscious feel that we need to be playing against people like Crawley regularly. As games like this, CP last season and even Brentford show, we aren’t really a non-league set of fans.

Anyway, it was fun. Unlike….

Plus points: Scoring 4 goals away from home against a Conference side. Being 3-0 up after 23 minutes. Some of the best quality I have ever seen from an AFCW side.

Minus points: Conceeding 5 goals away from home against a Conference side. Letting the 3-0 lead slip almost too readily

The referee’s a………: Conference standard ref, which I think might go down as a euphemism. Certainly the cheer he got from us when he gave a free kick to us spoke volumes.

Them: Mixture of triallists and first teamers. For the first half hour, they looked on a par with Corinthian Casuals, though after that, they demonstrated the gap between a professional Conference outfit and a team that hasn’t even kicked a ball in the Ryman Premier yet. OK, PSFs are often unreliable guides – remember Barnet last season? – but I don’t think CT will get away with going 3-0 down every week. I might be doing the NLP report for their game next week against Dagnum & Redbridge, so I’ll let you know how they get on…

Point to ponder: There were 921 there last night. How many more would there have been had a more realistic PSF price been set? I think I must have known more people who weren’t going as was. Perhaps a lesson here for AFCW – cover your costs by all means, but don’t bite the hand that feeds.

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) I really don’t like new towns. I’ve had experiences of places like Crawley, Northampton and a certain town in the Midlands and they’re so uniformly bland it’s unreal. Were roundabouts and chavhappy underpasses the byproduct of cannabis smoking town planners? While we all agree that places like Leeds, Derby and Manchester are cesspits, they do have some sort of “realness” to them. And you don’t have to walk miles to find a chippy. (2) The £2.50 programme concentrating mostly on…. Crystal Palace. (3) Apparently, the floodlights were turned on by command of, wait for it, the Chief Steward. Perhaps he should have reffed the game.

Anything else? Yeah, I note that NE has departed. Shame really, especially as he stood in admirably after the TE saga, so it’s another link to the CCL days gone. While his lack of coaching qualifications ultimately worked against him, I still can’t help thinking that deep, deep down, he was a little bit miffed at being ousted by DA. Anyway, his pedigree was damn useful, and with luck the Nescot tieup (my old college, for those who care) will see a WFC style youth system, without Hammam pocketing the transfer fees. Can’t see why he went to Whyteleafe though 🙂

So, was it worth it? What, £11 to get in and 9 goals in return? Oh, come on….

In a nutshell: Two years away, in more ways than one.